Penalty wins last cup pool game for Raith Rovers at Annan Athletic
The Kirkcaldy club’s return of nine points from four fixtures left them just a point behind table-toppers Kilmarnock, 2-1 victors at Albion Rovers on Saturday, and the same margin ahead of fellow Fifers Dunfermline Athletic, third-placed finishers with nine points.
It also sets up a last-16 tie at Hibernian next month, courtesy of Dundee’s 1-0 win at home to Inverness Caledonian Thistle on Sunday, the Dee having needed a win by a two-goal margin to progress, at Rovers’ expense, to round two.
Raith’s other goals besides Vaughan’s spot-kick beyond home goalkeeper Greg Fleming with just over ten minutes left to play to make it 3-2 were scored by Keith Watson on 11 minutes and Callum Smith on 51, with Josh Galloway equalising for their Scottish league One hosts at Galabank Stadium on 27 and Benjamin Luissint putting them ahead ten minutes later.
That was Raith’s second pool win following a 2-0 victory at home to Albion Rovers on Tuesday, July 18, their other two games having been drawn, one of the subsequent shootouts having gone their way, against Kilmarnock last Wednesday, and the other against them, versus Dunfermline on Saturday, July 15.
It also made it two wins out of two for Raith against Annan, their only previous competitive meeting having been a 3-0 home victory, also in the league cup, back in 2013.
Manager Ian Murray was pleased to see his team prevail in Dumfries and Galloway but frustrated that they’d had to come from behind to do so, having enjoyed 51% of the possession and registered 13 goal attempts, eight of them on target, to their hosts’ four, two of them net-bound.
“It was stressful, that’s for sure,” he told Raith TV afterwards.
“I thought the first five or six minutes were really scrappy from both sides, then we dominated for 20 or 25 minutes, scored a nice early goal to settle us down and had a couple of decent opportunities and then we had a ten-minute spell of just madness. I was really disappointed with that and had to have a go at the players at half-time and give them a bit of a rocket because it looked like our workrate had dropped and players were doing what they wanted and making basic errors and that cost us goals.
“We had to come for the second half and start very well and we did that. We were very unfortunate not to score and then we did get a goal, which settled us down again.
“We didn’t become impatient. We stuck to our game-plan and we dominated the second half, but it wasn’t easy. Annan still looked a threat on the counter-attack, as I expected.”
Murray, 42, was delighted by how many chances his side created, with new signing Jack Hamilton as a lone striker up front, but disappointed not to see more of them end up in the back of the net.
“I can’t remember a game in which we created so many really clear-cut chances,” he said.
“We didn’t take them all but we’re creating them, which is really, really important.
“Our job was to win the game. We’d have loved to win it by more goals but we didn’t.”